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Health Articles

Learn how to apply current physiology and nutrition research to improve your health and performance.

How to maximize Grip and Forearm Strength

You probably have seen people that can lift chairs with one hand, crush cans in their hands or bend heavy metal bars with ease. 

These feats are made possible by strong muscles located in the forearm and hand. The most powerful muscles, however, are located in the forearm. These muscles are quite unique in that they usually have several actions and work in close synergy with one another. Not only do they make all the hand movements possible, but they create the strength and power needed in these movements.

Grip strength and strong forearm muscles are important to bodybuilders, power and olympic lifters, and lots of different athletes. The grip must be sufficiently strong to hold the barbell or dumbbell in exercises such as the deadlift and bent-over row, but also the muscles must be strong enough to support the weight during movement in an overhand or underhand grip position.

BB Iso

Collectively all movements (except rotation) can be seen in the wrist joint alone. There is abduction, adduction, flexion and extension. 

There are six major muscles acting on the wrist joint so it is worth your time to train them.

  • flexor carpi radialis
  • palmaris longus 
  • flexor carpi ulnaris
  • extensor carpi radialis longus
  • extensor radialis brevis
  • extensor carpi ulnaris

Wrist Exercises that will develop all of the muscles maximally

Wrist Flex/Wrist Ext.

Int Dev./Ext Dev. 

Most of the wrist muscles whose masses are located high on the forearm also have finger and elbow joint actions. Less muscle bulk achieved by transformation of the muscles into tendons, allows for a greater number of muscles to be involved in hand actions. 

There are still other muscles of the forearm that affect movements of the hand, but which are not considered wrist actions. This is because without the elbow joint, the palm of the hand could not rotate downward or upward.

Wrist Rot

There are still other muscles involved in the forearm that cross the wrist and work the fingers. These muscles have long tendons that cross the wrist joint and attach onto the fingers or hand. It is interesting to note that these tendons are held together in a very small space at the wrist by a flat band of ligamentus tissue. This is the ligament that is usually cut when a carpal tunnel syndrome operation is done. Thus doing these (and fingers) exercises should help to prevent carpal tunnel.

There are also several small muscles in the hand that are involved in gripping. To work them you should do finger flexion and extension

The muscles involved in finger extension-hyperextension should be strengthened to balance finger flexion development. However, they are not as important in bodybuilding as the finger flexors. Because the hands play such a critical role in regard to the development that you get in other parts of the body you should do finger flexion exercises. The best equipment with which to do this is the Exer Rings. With them you can duplicate and isolate almost all actions of the fingers. This includes finger flexion, extension, adduction and abduction.


These rings can be purchased at

By doing all of these exercises for the forearm, wrist and finger muscles you will not only enhance your current workouts, but also develop additional strength and mass of the muscles involved. Do not be misled into thinking that the forearm muscles will get ample development as you do other exercises. They need specialized work just as any other muscle and body part does. Thus spend the time due to them and you will be very pleased.